For as far back as I can remember, we have been subscribing to the Weekly Reader. This is a simple four page newspaper for kids that focuses on specific topics in each issue. In this pre-k classroom the Weekly Reader topic for the day is on Fall Fruit. I want to share with you the method we tend to use when introducing Weekly Readers to our students but this is not to say it is a have-to method, it is just the preferred method that I have used over the years.
We use the Weekly Readers as part of a large group pre-reading experience. To begin, each child is given their Weekly Reader and they are taught to place it on the floor in front of them so they can turn the pages together and read along together.
It is important for the teacher to review the Weekly Reader ahead of time so she will be prepared to review the ideas on each page and be prepared to ask open ended questions that promote conversation and discussion. The teacher will ask the children to look at the picture and then tell her what they think the topic is going to be about. “What does the picture tell us?” Then the teacher will invite the children to point to the title as she reads the title aloud.
The teacher has a big book version of the Weekly Reader she can use to help her point to the words and reinforce concepts along the way. Essentially, the role of the teacher is to model the reading experience. Once the teacher has introduced the title page, the the children all turn their page and open up to the center page. There are four pages total in each Weekly Reader.
The teacher will ask the children to point to each square on the page and then invite them to tell her what they think is happening in that square. The children will use their fingers to point to the words under each section of the page as the teacher reads the words aloud. Ultimately, we are promoting the idea of reading from left to right, exploring the photos, predicting the message of each section, following a sequence of page numbers, following a sequence of events, reading aloud together, and working in cooperation as a large group.
In addition to promoting basic pre-reading skills, we are also learning about the content the Weekly Reader provides. Today, we are discovering the growth stages of a pumpkin. Together, we can follow each stage of growth by identifying the stages in both numerical order and by looking at the pictures. We are going to read the words under each picture aloud together then answer the open ended questions the teacher has prepared.
After reading each section of the center page together, we will close the page and look at the back page. For some really strange reason I didn’t take a picture of the last page. But I can tell you that the last page is generally a page of simple activities the children can do to reinforce the message in the newspaper. Most of the time, we do this part together with our fingers first then go to the table and do it with a crayon on our own.
The teacher’s guide that comes with the Weekly Reader subscription provides additional ideas for extending the reading experience into art, math, and other content areas. Just to give you a rough guide for how long this process is – I would say that we spend about 15 minutes or less. It just depends on the kinds of questions that are being asked and how engaged the children are in the large group prereading process.